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Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

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Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby mesayre » Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:07 pm

Hey all,

I am familiar with the basics of the song window, and have used it every now and then to merge some chunks for a film score or something. But I haven't done much with it. I'm curious to know how other folks are using it, since it seems it could be a great tool if I spent more time with it. I'm particularly interested in using it for the songwriting process.

Do you use it? Do you love it? Tell me more...

Thanks,
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby Shooshie » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:28 am

I used the Song window periodically 20 - 25 years ago. Hardly ever, now. It's still there for backward compatibility with old files, and I appreciate that. If I were creating songs now with that same technique, it would still be a wonderful tool. The basic premise is this:

1. Sequences are "Chunks."
2. Chunks can be stacked, laid end to end, or even piled up randomly.
3. The Song window is where you can do that.

It was some of the original "loop" software. Create any number of phrases at a certain tempo in MIDI, each in its own Chunk. Now stack them in the Song window to create a song. A baseline or rhythm element can be laid down any number of times to make a verse, bridge, or whatever you need it to do. Stack harmonic phrases on top of that, and melody on top of it all. Any element stacked in the Song window can be shifted any amount, placed with precision, or just tossed in. It's up to you.

The window suffered some serious shortcomings. You could not use multiple tempos. Ideally, I would have liked to change tempos for some of the chunks within the window. There was just one tempo track, and it affected payback speed of all chunks. I sometimes wanted each chunk to follow its own conductor track, but they all followed only the one designated tempo chunk. (seems like that would have been the top chunk, but I can't say for sure... been a long, long time)

Again, I don't remember for certain, but it seems like it played each chunk "as-is," so you couldn't transpose a chunk within the window. That would have been nice for baseline, harmony and rhythm elements. And it seems such an obvious need that it should have been possible. I just don't remember, but I think that was one of the frustrating things about the Song Window.

The Song Window had other uses, as well. Combining tracks and making a new Chunk was the main one. It served very well for creating new chunks from several fractional ones. For instance, if you're working on a song, you may have an idea for the bridge. You play it and record it in MIDI. Or if you're doing classical style composition, you may have an idea for an exposition "A" theme in a Sonata, then you come up with other themes, or modified ones, then you do bits of development, and you see how they fit together, but actually doing that would be a tedious job. Enter: the Song Window. Just stack them and fiddle with their positioning until everything lines up. You can place them at markers (I think???), or you can create columns at certain bars/beats, and drop a chunk right on that.

Even combining just the better first half and better second half of two different chunks into a complete "best" sequence was easy to do in the Song Window.

After your puzzle is put together, one command turns that Song back into a single Chunk. The complete Chunk — or Sequence — is now ready for final editing and finishing. The problem in the Song window was that it's a whole different graphic interface. You aren't seeing MIDI anymore, but just graphic elements representing chunks, layers and time. You can't edit MIDI from the Song window. It opens a chunk when you double click one, and you edit that chunk, but if that chunk is used over and over, you have just edited all of them. So, the Song Window is not the ideal place for editing. Its function is powerful, but limited to its specific purpose.

All that sounds well and good, but most of those processes are now very easily accomplished in the Tracks Overview Window. (Now, it's just called Tracks) You can drag and drop chunks into chunks via the Tracks Window. You can select any sequence of MIDI events and drag that selection to the Chunks Window to create a new chunk. Then drag it to another chunk's Tracks window, if you like. See how flexible DP really is? They don't make you use the Song window when a more natural, omniscient view is available in the Consolidated Window and Tracks window. SO, there are at least two ways of doing "Song" functions in DP, and actually more, but that's not my current focus.

Conclusion:
    If you want to work that way, the Song Window is a dream come true. So fast. And once everything is done, you convert back to a chunk and continue on your merry way. But it seems to me that development of the window ceased 25 years ago. It could be that backward compatibility painted MOTU into a corner from which there was no place to go. Whatever the case, every time I use it, I think of a hundred ways to make it superb, but it's not going to happen. The Song Window is 1988 staring back at you down a long road of amazing improvements, a road that it didn't get to travel. Left behind, it is a reminder of the history of a brilliant piece of software.

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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby stubbsonic » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:02 am

That was an excellent and helpful overview.

I don't see those limitations (i.e., only one tempo source, lack of transpose, chunk management) as being "problems" per se. There's a logic to it, and understandable reasons why it is the way it is.

If you are working on a sketch with sections, this gives you a wonderful way to rearrange sections experimentally, non-destructively, and relatively quickly.

There is something about this idea of having "pattern sequences" chained together into a song, and then a longer "pattern" that lays over the entirety of the chain. My K2xxx workstations had this feature in their song mode that I used from time to time. I.e., there were 16 tracks for sequences that were chained together in a song, and then 16 additional tracks could be recorded over the entire "song" form. I like this as a conceptual framework.

More recently, I end up rendering things as audio, (even temporarily) to do that kind of work, but I can still see the logic and usefulness of this way of working.

I would honestly hate to see the song window go away, even though I rarely (but occasionally) use it. And even though we may not see any improvements to it, I'd still like to see it remain functional. If I had one request, it would be to have multiple tempos, but I can see what a nightmare that would be to code.
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby bayswater » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:16 pm

Shooshie wrote:The window suffered some serious shortcomings. You could not use multiple tempos. Ideally, I would have liked to change tempos for some of the chunks within the window. There was just one tempo track, and it affected payback speed of all chunks. I sometimes wanted each chunk to follow its own conductor track, but they all followed only the one designated tempo chunk.

I haven't used it and that's why. Tempo really has to be at the level of the chunk, not the song. Never understood why it was done this way. Might as well say all the chunks have to be in the same key.
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby stubbsonic » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:43 am

I can't recall, does it let you copy conductor maps from component chunks into the song conductor track?
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby mesayre » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:22 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful responses. I appreciate the time! I started messing around with the window because I want to force myself into thinking more in terms of sections, and transitioning between them, rather than my current approach which is a lot more linear.

I have been experimenting with using the song window to draft out arrangements of songs in modular sections. It seems quite helpful for things like "I wanna try two different versions of the bridge of this song, with different instruments and changes". Or for building a song in 4- or 8-bar pieces when I haven't decided how long each verse is going to be.

I do agree it could use a little TLC! With some improvements, this feature could really shine in the prototyping stage. The more time I spend working on original songs, in particular, the more interested I become in optimizing the early part of the process when I'm not really sure what I'm making yet. It'd be great to integrate it with the lyrics window somehow. And even basic stuff like having the playback wiper would make it more pleasant to use. Perhaps it's a long shot to hope for upgrades to this part of the software, but there are some other DAWs that market similar functionality as a primary feature - the demand is out there.


As for this...

stubbsonic wrote:I can't recall, does it let you copy conductor maps from component chunks into the song conductor track?


Yes! the copy conductor track command will copy the conductor tracks of as many chunks as you select into the song conductor track, and then it respects your tempo changes from all those chunks. Otherwise, it'll just use the tempo you set with the slider/tap function - which can be useful in some situations. I haven't tried it with chunks that have overlapping/possibly-conflicting conductor tracks.


Thanks for the thoughts, all.
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby Shooshie » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:29 pm

stubbsonic wrote:I can't recall, does it let you copy conductor maps from component chunks into the song conductor track?


Yes. I don't remember exactly how it worked, but it seems like it allowed the top chunk to be the tempo chunk, or something like that. You had to select the chunks and tell it to copy their tempo tracks. But only one tempo for any given point in time. A tempo track in a chunk becomes the tempo for as long as that chunk lasts. When converting back to a chunk, it seems like you have to tell it to copy the tempo track. I just don't remember how it handles end-to-end tracks. Top chunk has tempo track? Choose a chunk for each part? I just don't remember. Of course, once you change it back to a chunk, you can always edit tempo THEN.

I positively enjoyed using it. It's just that I always started thinking of ways to improve it. That got frustrating.

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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby terrybritton » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:02 am

Shooshie wrote:I positively enjoyed using it. It's just that I always started thinking of ways to improve it. That got frustrating.

Shoosh


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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby James Steele » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:32 am

I really feel that MOTU has no interest anymore in the Song Window. I asked for years just to have a playback wiper in that window that would indicate the position in the song. Nothing. I don't believe a single enhancement has been made to the Song Window for decades.
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby MIDI Life Crisis » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:34 am

James Steele wrote:I really feel that MOTU has no interest anymore in the Song Window. I asked for years just to have a playback wiper in that window that would indicate the position in the song. Nothing. I don't believe a single enhancement has been made to the Song Window for decades.


Same for the Notation window. :(
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby stubbsonic » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:53 pm

Seems reasonable that the Song Window, Notation Window, and QuickScribe could all get a few little fixes, tweaks and some cosmetics to keep up with the rest of DP. I'm not usually the one to say "It'll never happen." But in this case....
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby bayswater » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:01 pm

stubbsonic wrote:Seems reasonable that the Song Window, Notation Window, and QuickScribe could all get a few little fixes, tweaks and some cosmetics to keep up with the rest of DP. I'm not usually the one to say "It'll never happen." But in this case....
At the risk of this becoming a dog pile, the Drum editor needs some work too.
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby Shooshie » Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:15 am

Why do y'all hate DP?
... Oh. Well, yeah, there IS that.
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby SixStringGeek » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:43 am

Shooshie wrote:Why do y'all hate DP?
... Oh. Well, yeah, there IS that.


Because it isn't Vision.
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Re: Do you love the song window? Tell me all about it!

Postby frankf » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:58 am

Not so for me. DP left Studio Vision in the dust a while ago. We can only wax wistfully on what might have been but not gonna happen. Occasionally I too miss an SVP feature for a minute but only for that one minute. But I feel your pain.


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